Do you feel that your podcasts could be better?
Are you doing everything you can to prepare for a great episode?
We share how you can get the most out of your preparation time.
Creating any content is work and a podcast is no different from writing a blog post or making a video: it needs to be well thought through.
While you could just start recording and see what happens, it’s almost inevitable that it’s not going to be as focussed as it could be. If you’re watching a presenter on TV or listening to a DJ on the radio and it all seems effortless, remember that the majority of the time it is no such thing. There are scripts or preparation of what might need to be covered.
The key advantages of doing your preparation is:
– You know where you’re going and you are not going to run out of things to say!
– You can be more concise.
– You can feel more confident.
– The content flows well.
– You are less likely to forget anything or be caught out by information you should have researched.
Create a Template for Your Podcast
Certain parts of your podcast will be the same each episode and so it’s a good idea to create a format. This can be as detailed or as sketchy as you want. Think about those items that do not change and add them to your preparation document. Some of these items might be:
2. Featured resource
4. Listener questions
5. Call to action
Depending on the style of your podcast you may have a lot to your format or very little. It doesn’t matter. The point is that you’re noting any element that you repeat every time. Add in any regular production (intros, outros, music, etc.), too. You’re also listing everything in the order it appears in the podcast. Of course, you can move things around on this template but it gives you a starting point for each episode.
Add Ideas Before You Come to Do Your Preparation
If you’re anything like me, ideas will come to you at any time of the day. So, it’s important that if you come up with some great content for your next podcast episode that it doesn’t get forgotten about. To give you an example, perhaps you’ve received a question from a listener and you want to incorporate it in your podcast. Well, cut and paste it into the preparation document at the time. Then you know that there is no way you’ll leave it out (or struggle to find it, etc.).
The same applies if you come across a resource that you want to share, a piece of news that impacts on your niche or a story that’s appropriate. Whatever it is, write a quick comment in your preparation document.
If this becomes a habit of yours, you’ll be amazed how much you casually keep adding. Then when the time comes to do the preparation, a lot of the hard work has been done already and it will just be a case of tidying things up.
Decide How Long You Have to Prepare
I generally find that you get out what you put in. So, if you scrimp on the amount of preparation you do, you may find that the podcast is not as satisfying as it could have been. That said, the other extreme is spending too long on preparing your podcast, carefully thinking out each and every word, and not actually getting to the recording! So, set your preparation time and then do as much as you can in that time or until you feel you’re ready to record.
Script Introductions and Transitions
Scripting word for word can eat into your day and sound wooden when it’s read aloud, but that doesn’t mean it’s a complete waste of time. You just have to script the important bits and ad-lib the rest. With scripting comes the ability to be very concise and create powerful copy. This comes into its own at the beginning of the podcast where you’re trying to engage with your listeners and make them realise that this podcast is something they really want to listen to in its entirety.
Similarly, you may be leading into an interview or a voicemail question from a listener, and wanting to make a seemless transition. This may require a certain lead-in or ‘cue’ so that it works properly.
Make Notes to Help You Ad-Lib
Ad-libbing is likely to be an important aspect of your podcast. You shouldn’t be scared about doing it because it’s part of every day life and scripting your whole podcast may not be practical (unless you have access to sizeable resources). What you need are the basics. This is different for every person but you need enough information to remind you what you need to say.
For example, if I wanted to describe the process of how I feed my dog, all I would do is put a note in the preparation document:
‘Explain feeding the dog.’
That would work for me because so long as I see this cue, I can describe getting the bowl of the cupboard, opening the can of dog food, etc. However, some people might like more detailed notes that map out the process. One advantage of doing it that way is that you are less likely to miss any steps.
Balancing the Script and the Ad-Lib Notes
Different types of podcast will require different types of preparation. It may be that you’ve already recorded an audio interview and that all your preparation is doing is joining up the dots and turning it more into a programme. If you are doing a monologue and teaching something, then you may need to include more detail in your preparation document.
Anyway, what you are aiming for is a document that has sufficient detail to allow recording to take place.
Read it Aloud and Refine it
If at all possible, print out your preparation document and do a dry run of the podcast. This does two things. It gets your mind familiar with the material and will highlight potential weaknesses in your running order while there’s still time to amend them. Sometimes, extra notes in pencil will suffice. It doesn’t have to be a work of art as nobody is going to see it. It just serves as your map to guide the way through the podcast!
Using a Preparation Document Becomes Easier Over Time
Finally, don’t be discouraged if you find it tough to make it all sound natural during the recording. You’ll probably prefer either reading the script or ad-libbing – play to your strengths. This is all part of developing your own style, but it is good to be able to do both.
What preparation do you do for your podcast? What is the best use of your time?